Essay: Stem cell research

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  • Subject area(s): Science essays
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Stem cells have a unique property to develop into any cell in the human body. These cells have immense potential to provide cures for various diseases. Since their discovery in 1998, stem cell research has challenged the questions of ethics and morals. As a highly controversial subject, many people disagree on whether the research should be conducted. Although some stem cell research can destroy potential life, the benefits of stem cell research has the opportunity to improve medicine and the overall quality of human life.
 
The main reason why stem cell research has controversy is because of the use of embryonic stem cells. When harvesting the cells from the embryos, the cell gets destroyed along with the potential human life. The destruction of these cells becomes an issue for those who believe that life begins at conception. This argument against embryonic stem cell research becomes the same as those who identify as pro-life, or those against abortion. Since they believe that life begins when the sperm fertilizes the egg, they see that using the embryo for stem cell research, which ultimately destroys it, is equivalent to murder. Embryonic stem cells are harvested “during the blastocyst phase of embryonic cells”, where the embryo hasn’t implanted to the uterine wall yet (“What are Stem Cells?”). Without implantation, the embryo cannot become a fetus and continue with development. Since the embryo becomes prevented from development, those against embryonic stem cell research see it as a termination of life. Although destroyed, the potential life contributed towards the improvement of current lives who have various disorders.

During the early stages of stem cell research in 2001, then U.S. President Bush restricted federal funding for research because of the destruction of human embryos. During this announcement, President Bush said that it “juxtaposes the need to protect life in all its phases with the prospect of saving and improving life in all its stages” (qtd. in White). President Bush’s restriction shows the presence of politics in stem cell research. Furthermore, all 17 Republican candidates openly spoke against stem cell research during a 2016 Presidential debate (Fox). They explained that the possibility of abusing the system would be against the welfare of those embryos (Fox). Although a terrible outcome, the regulations for these experiments prevent people from abusing certain aspects of stem cell research for personal gain. According to author Jonathan Kimmelman, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)’s guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research are “whether donors of eggs or embryos have provided informed consent, the justification for the study, the number of embryos that will be used, and the quality of the study design.” Not only do these make the experiments respectful, it protects the embryos from possible exploitation.

Since stem cell research always evolves, new concerns emerge and need solutions. Most of these concerns revolve around ethics and the protection of investors of stem cell research (Kimmelman). In response to the growing development of stem cell research, the ISSCR was created in order

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